Go to home page

Preface to Bold Plum: with the Guerrillas in China's war against Japan by Hsiao Li Lindsay


            In 1947, when I started to write my story, Bold Plum, the tumultuous events in China of which I had so recently been a part were swirling through my head. While my husband Michael was teaching at Harvard University in the United States, I spent long hours sitting at a desk in our university lodgings. My thoughts raced ahead, faster than I could write them down. For some reason, my memories came to me directly in English, not in my native Chinese. I wrote as if I were speaking with a friend, although I was all alone and very lonely in a foreign country.


            I wrote steadily, all day every day for three months, without stopping. When I had finished, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and pleasure. All the emotions stored up during those chaotic years of survival and hardship had now been put down on paper.


            I wrote in English because I wanted people throughout the world to know how the Chinese people had suffered during the anti-Japanese war and how they had fought courageously with very few resources. My story is one woman¹s experience of the Chinese resistance to the Japanese occupation. My narrative is from a particular point of view, and an unusual one at that, of a Chinese woman activist married to a non-Chinese, who lived and worked side-by-side with the Communist Army in the guerrilla areas of north China and with the Chinese Communist Party at their wartime headquarters at Yenan.


            My story is also a love story between myself, a Chinese woman, and an English man, Michael Lindsay, who became Lord Lindsay of Birker. A Chinese woman marrying a foreigner was almost unthinkable at the time. My story is one of courage and the hardships we endured during our life together under the Japanese occupation of China from 1937 - 1945.


            At Yenching University in Beijing, Michael and I were secretly helping the Chinese Communist Army in their fight against the Japanese. We were almost caught by the Japanese on the day of the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941, when the University's protected status as an American institution ended. We dashed out one gate of the University just as the Japanese secret police came in the other gate to arrest us. For two and a half years we were constantly on the move with the Communist Army in the guerrilla areas of north China, trying to evade the Japanese Army. In 1944 we made a dangerous 500-mile journey with frequent crossings of Japanese lines of control to reach Yenan, the wartime headquarters of the Chinese Communists.


            Times have changed since 1947. There is now ever-increasing interest in China in the English-speaking world. My story is part of the history of a turbulent period in China seen through the eyes of a woman who lived through it.



Readers¹ Praise for Bold Plum


³ Hsiao Li Lindsay is a master storyteller and a historian¹s dream. She offers a day by-day account of flight from Beijing with Japanese troops in pursuit, years with the Communist guerrillas in North China, childbirth on the trail, and refuge in Yenan. Bold Plum shows us the communist movement in all its precarious local variation. Lindsay¹s keen eye and prodigious memory are a gift to us all.²

—Gail Hershatter, Professor of History , University of California, Santa Cruz, USA


³ Bold Plum shows clearly the part played by millet and rifles in defeating the Japanese. It is written in simple language by a woman who took part in the entire eight years of extremely difficult struggle, and even gave birth to two children while under enemy fire. Bold Plum is exciting reading and a must for all those

interested in this part of world history.²

—Joan Hinton, scientist, Beijing, China


³ This is a rare item. Bold Plum has all the virtues of a remarkably sharp authorial memory and a story line that ranges from tragically massacred peasant villages to living intimately with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, Lin Biao, and the whole gang.²

—Jerome Silbergeld, Professor of Chinese Art and Film, Princeton University, USA


³ Bold Plum is a unique story in that many barriers were crossed by Hsiao Li in her marriage and her adventures hiding from the Japanese, her courage in the way she underplayed the dangers, and her courage in marrying a foreigner. I found Bold Plum fascinating.²

—Deh-I Hsiung, science policy analyst, Washington DC, USA


³ Bold Plum is so exciting that it should be made into a movie. In just a handful of pages, the reader sees first hand the crumbling of the last dynasty in ChinaŠthe

Japanese occupation of Manchuria, an incredible love story Šharrowing escapes from the Japanese occupiers, and life in a cave in Yenan.²

— Hon. Don Manzullo, representative United States 16th Congressional District, Illinois, USA


³ I just couldn¹t put Bold Plum down. Her courage and the choices she had to make are amazing.²

—Fatima Jibrell, Goldman Environmental Prize Winner 2002, Bosaso, Somalia


³ Bold Plum could be transformed into a terrific movie. It has all the ingredients for success—a tender love story, the humanization of the Eighth Route Army, a blunder- busting American ambassador, Œsimpatico¹ communist soldiers, sympathetic US military observers, double-dealing Nationalists, et al.²

—Edward Tan, business executive, Miami, Florida, USA

Go to home page